When addressing the issue of being “overqualified,” it’s critical to understand the true concerns behind the label. Last week we laid out what some of those concerns might be. Today, how to address them.
The issue is likely to come up at three possible junctures:
1. You may be told very early in the process you are not being considered because you are overqualified.
2. At some point in the interview, the interviewer may bring it up.
3. Near the end of the interview, when you “close the gap”, it is raised as a concern
As soon as the issue is brought up, first and foremost, identify the specific concern. How? By asking for detail and elaboration. For example “Can you tell me what you mean by that?” or “Can you share more about your concern?” Through this answer as well as through what you’ve learned about the job, hiring manager and work environment, you will have some ideas about the true concern behind the label.
You should address these issues in both your immediate response, throughout your interview and follow-ups, as well as in your resume and elsewhere. In fact, even if you are never told directly that your over qualification is a concern, you should address it as you market yourself and interview.
Here are some ways to address concerns:
- Show you will not be bored by listing specific challenges you’re looking forward to taking on in this position and use examples from the past to show how you kept yourself challenged
- Express passion for the job and company as a way of showing you would not quickly leave and are not taking the job out desperation
- Demonstrate a highly positive attitude to address issues of resentment or unwillingness to do menial tasks
- Help younger managers feel comfortable with a warm communication style, downplaying irrelevant achievements or successes from long ago
- Overcome age related issues with contemporary communication, stories of successfully working in fast-paced environments and problems solved through flexible thinking
- Quell competitive concerns by appearing eager to learn and grow but not ambitious about climbing the corporate ladder or regaining a previously held level
- Show what you’ve been doing to keep up with newer technologies and skills
One of the best ways to avoid the issue of “overqualified” is to position yourself as a perfect match for the position and clearly communicate how your qualifications are an asset to create values for the employer. Later in this series, we will look at how to turn your qualifications into advantages.